8-year-old girl takes on vandals damaging her family’s memorial bench

An eight-year-old Hampstead schoolgirl is calling on Transport for London to save her great-grandparents’ memorial bench from the vandals who are destroying it.

Wooden slats have been wrenched off and graffiti tags sprayed over it.

The bench was first placed on Haverstock Hill 40 years ago in memory of Brian and Marion Green – stalwarts of the Hampstead community.

Nancy Flintoff only stumbled across her relatives’ bench by chance after it was moved without warning from an old bus stop outside her great-grandparents’ home five years ago to a spot near Waitrose in Finchley Road.

Now the Northbridge House Junior School pupil has written to the Ham&High complaining that the wooden relic could be consigned to the scrapheap if TfL does not step in to save it.

“People are writing on it, jumping on it and my mum said people at night come and sleep on the bench and wet it,” said Nancy, of Prospect Road, Childs Hill.

“I feel quite sad because it has been in my family for quite some time and the rest of the family want it to be maintained and saved – otherwise people will just take it away and throw it in a bin, I expect.”

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The bench was paid for by Brian and Marion’s family 40 years ago. It has an engraving chiselled into the wood – now obscured by silver paint.

The couple were born and married in Hampstead and known for their youth work. Brian was an officer in the Jewish Lads Brigade, while Marion volunteered at an east London social project.

Their son and Nancy’s grandfather Jack Green said: “Nancy is the sixth generation of our family to have lived in and around Hampstead and when she saw it she just thought, ‘This is terrible and if it goes on like this much longer it will be gone for good.’

“My parents had a connection with Hampstead and, if the bench goes, then so will a little bit of that connection.”

A TfL spokesman said: “We apologise for any distress this matter has caused and we are now in discussions with the family to repair the bench as quickly as possible.”

Nancy’s father, Sunday Times journalist John-Paul Flintoff, said: “Nancy is very good at family history and remembers all about who is related to who.

“She knows that Freddie Flintoff is related (he is John-Paul’s fourth cousin once removed) to us somehow. She just thinks it’s wrong and, in a proprietorial sense, she thinks it’s our bench so it needs to be saved.”